Title: And I Darken
Author: Kiersten White
Series: The Conqueror’s Saga, #1
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Number of Pages (Hardcover): 475
Date Published: June 28th of 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
Rate: 2 of 5
Before I start talking–er, writing?–I just want to let you know that I wanted to love this book. It has been one of those books in my Goodreads TBR that I keep eyeing for so long. It has all the elements that characterize the books I love reading. So, it has been quite a blow to me that I didn’t like this book. I mean, so many people loved it and honestly, I might have set the bar too high since almost all of my friends on Goodreads said that it is very good, there might have been a sprinkling of bad reviews but overall it promised me a nice time reading. And so, I dived into the book with very high hopes.
I had been quite disappointed (as can be reflected with my rating) which is really sad since I was so prepared to get into a new series. Right off the bat, the writing is gorgeous. It is fairly obvious that White is a talented writer however, the story didn’t engage me so much that after reading quite a third of the book, I just knew this reading experience will not go well. Now, you are perhaps wondering why I’m whining about this and just didn’t put the book down if I thought it was particularly bad. And my answer would be this: I don’t give up on books. Give me a particularly bad book and I will give it a shot until the very end. I’ve had multiple books that I was prepared to not finish but sticking to them to the end had been their redeeming mercy, e.g. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. As for this book, the story itself felt lulling. I had difficulty immersing myself within the confinements of And I Darken. The reading of the latter half of the book just made me want it to be over so I can move on to my next read. I so desperately wanted to make it work–but to no avail. There were some instances wherein I was picking up situations that excited me but then it would trail off to another direction all to be forgotten for yet another circumstance. There were so many loose ends–for lack of a better term–flying around that I felt if the author picked a couple of ideas in could have spun into another direction. There were so many things to tackle in the story, all of which are quite intriguing, i.e. sexism, religion, etc. It doesn’t really help that I thought this was totally another genre. I thought it is fantasy. Well, truth be told, it is fantasy since apparently alternative history can be flagged down as fantasy (I’m sorry, I didn’t know!) but I guess you understand the point I’m trying to make. I thought it is fantasy fantasy, as in high fantasy. Apparently not and boy did that give me a kick in the ass. Halfway through reading this, I had A Game of Thrones kinda vibes. Apparently, I was correct since I was informed that this has been marketed as a teen GoT type of thing. I see it, I just don’t like it.
Also, I didn’t feel enamored with the characters, truth be told. They seem to be a walking mass of their weaknesses. They are characterized by what they are lacking and what their fears are. I did appreciate, however, a kick-ass female lead–Lada. But, even she had been particularly irritating for me.
The writing talent is excellent but that hadn’t been enough to get me to love this book. And I see it, I see the glimpses of what could’ve been an excellent read for me but there’s just this something missing. Perhaps the characters or the storyflow irritated me the most but there’s just this certain kind of engagement in the book that failed to beguile. Now, I understand that this book can prove to be a very nice read for other people. But this just wasn’t for me, I’m sorry. I wanted to love it but I guess that’s not happening anytime soon.